What Is the Human Resources CCP Certification?

by Ruth Mayhew; Updated September 26, 2017
All in a day's work

The human resources field consists of at least five areas in the following disciplines: employee relations, recruitment and staffing, strategic management, training and development, and compensation and benefits. A professional with experience and knowledge in all five areas is referred to as an HR generalist. A human resources professional whose career focuses on one or two specific areas is referred to as an HR specialist. Compensation and benefits specialists—sometimes referred to as “compensation specialists”—are experts in the field of compensation, salary, wage and benefits administration, and related human resources matters.

CCP Examination Criteria, Cost and Preparation

Human resources professionals who gain credibility as compensation specialists do so through CCP designation, formal education and training, and significant work experience. CCP, or Certified Compensation Professional, designation is earned by successfully passing a series of rigorous examinations that demonstrate expertise in nine required areas.

While there are no formal education prerequisites for the CCP examination, attaining certification requires a substantial level of expertise which can be gained through several years of work experience. There are also tutoring options and formal examination preparation methods offered as classroom-based (live), online instruction (e-learning) and self-pace study methods available (for purchase) to those who want or need it.

The cost per examination is $395 as of May 2010, therefore, the minimum investment required to achieve CCP designation is estimated at $4,000, which includes application and examination fees.

CCP Examination Specifications

The CCP examination previously consisted of 12 subject matter areas (nine required and three elective); however, WorldatWork made substantive changes to certification criteria which became effective Jan. 1, 2010. WorldatWork is a member-based professional organization, and the governing body that owns the registered mark for the Certified Compensation Professional and other human resources-related designations.

Effective Jan. 1, 2010, CCP examinees must demonstrate knowledge in the following areas:

Total Rewards Management Accounting and Finance for the Human Resources Professional Quantitative Methods Strategic Communication in Total Rewards Regulatory Environments for Compensation Programs Job Analysis, Documentation and Evaluation Base Pay Administration and Pay for Performance Variable Pay: Incentives, Recognition and Bonuses Market Pricing - Conducting a Competitive Analysis

Recertification, Professional Development

As a Certified Compensation Professional, you must recertify your knowledge every three years. Recertification can be done a variety of ways, with the common choices being continuing education, publication of original work, and job-related activities. For recertification of CCP designation using continuing education, you must submit documentation of continuing education units (CEUs) completed for review by WorldatWork certification staff. Publication of original work includes producing articles for circulation throughout the human resources or compensation professional communities. Job-related activities considered for recertification can include accomplishments such as developing a total compensation and benefits program, performing a compensation analysis, or aligning compensation patterns with organizational and business objectives. Professional development is key to maintaining your CCP designation, although you have the option of recertifying by examination as well.


CCP designation is not regulated by any federal or state agency, nor is it required for employment as a compensation specialist. Employers value the expertise of professionals who are up-to-date on issues that affect compensation and benefits, such as labor and employment laws, legislative changes and workplace trends. Many employers are, therefore, indicating a preference for candidates who have achieved CCP designation.

Career Paths

A compensation specialist’s job may consist of analyzing compensation structures and wage rates, determining workforce and industry trends relative to compensation and benefits, calculating labor costs and salary structures, developing incentive plans and forecasting HR departmental budgets. Some job titles for which certified compensation professionals may be qualified are compensation analyst, compensation specialist, compensation and benefits manager, global rewards director or VP-human resources.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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